A complex problem
The spread of child sexual abuse material is a complex problem without borders. Since everything is connected, technology is an increasingly important part of the solution. Businesses and organisations are in a unique position to make an impact. Why? Because businesses and organisations can stop child sexual abuse material in their IT environment and directly limit exposure and the revictimisation that children suffer every time an image is shared. Pro-active work can also help to find individuals who consume CSAM, thereby helping to remove further harm to children.
What is Child Sexual Abuse Material and how does it spread?
The production and circulation of child sexual abuse material is a problem that exists in all geographical regions, social classes and environments, family structures, and also in workplaces. According to the UN, 750,000 people are looking at child sexual abuse material on the internet at any given moment. 80% of the material displays children below the age of 10 years.
What is Child Sexual Abuse Material?
Child sexual abuse material or child sexual exploitation material is images and videos that depict and document the sexual abuse of a child.
Child sexual abuse material is often referred to as child pornography. However, this has nothing to do with porn and is therefore not the correct term to use.
It is not a harmless act to look at child sexual abuse material. Every image or video depicts the worst moment of that child’s life, and every time someone looks at that image or video, the child is revictimised. Research shows that the trauma of child sexual abuse is even more severe if the sexual abuse is documented and the images disseminated on the internet.
How common is it?
Research suggest that between 3-5 percent of the general male population have a sexual interest in children. There is limited research the prevalence of females with a sexual interest in children.
Research also indicates that between 2-4 percent of men have viewed child sexual abuse material.
How is it spread?
Child sexual abuse material is illegal to distribute, download and view in most countries. This is why distributors and consumers try to avoid being discovered and why they hide the material on the internet. Despite this, the spread of child sexual abuse material is constantly increasing. Every image, new or old, uploaded to the internet adds to the mass of child sexual abuse material in circulation.
The material is distributed on both the open internet and the darknet/TOR. On the open internet it is most commonly shared through file-sharing, P2P networks and cloud-based services, but also through social media platforms, instant messaging, live-streaming apps and websites.
1 in 500 individuals look at child sexual abuse material while at work.
Half of those who consume child sexual abuse material abuse children physically.
80% of the offenders abuse children that they have a close relationship with.